Winter Climbing in North Wales
When winter time comes knocking at the door and the first light frosts leave a delicate icy covering on grassy fronds and plants, the climbers world begins to buzz with expectations of the coming big freeze. As the frost takes hold and the flow of water begins to slow, turning gradually but inexorably to ice, climbers make their first forays to test what might be 'in'.
The higher crags dampened by autumn rains will be first to come into condition - Cwm Idwal and Cwm Cneifion, Glyder Fach, The Black Ladders and of course Clogwyn y Garnedd high on Snowdon... Early ascents may be scratchy but with luck and a prolonged cold spell the ice will thicken, larger streams will freeze over and eventually the cascading waterfalls will freeze solid. In a 'good' winter spell of continually low temperatures when hardly a drop of water can flow without turning quickly to ice almost anything is possible and great things are achieved when ice and climbers meet.
The Devils Appendix, Cascade, The Black Cleft and exceptionally Aber Falls are classics of the genre and ice hungry climbers, picks and crampons honed to razor sharpness will beat an eager path to savour the usually fleeting moments in time when conditions are perfect.
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